Thank you so much, Deborah, for publishing this book. I pray that the "scary" parts will warn countless children to shun the occult enticement that are now so prevalent in schools and in our increasingly corrupt, anti-Christian culture. My greatest wish is that children across the country will be able to discern occult lures, then turn to our wonderful Lord and King -- and follow Him all the way!
Here is the link to the book: http://www.crossroad.to/Bible_studies/The-Invisible-War-Lighthouse.htm
- a parable to help children
recognize and resist New Age deception
and "put on" the Armor of God
* TROTH means a promise to stay together. When we love and follow our King, He will care for us and keep us close to Him forever.
Next: Chapter 1
Tom awoke with the sun. He jumped out of bed and pounced on his friend Peter still snoozing on the other side of the room.
"Wake up, Sleepyhead!" he shouted. He couldn't wait to go fishing in the King's river and build a tree house and look for wild animals. So what was he waiting for? He jumped out of bed and pounced on his friend. "Hurry up! Can't waste our day in bed!"
"Okay, okay. I'm getting up." Peter rubbed his eyes. "What do we need to take?"
"Fishing line, hooks, compass, snacks..."
"And chocolate cream cookies." Peter grabbed the bag his mom had fixed for them last night.
Tom and Peter were stuffing it all into their backpacks, when they heard a dog barking in the yard. They ran outside just in time to see a frightened squirrel scurry up a tree. A little white dog was bouncing like a jumping jack around the foot of the tree.
"Come here, you funny pup," called Tom.
The dog came running so fast that it almost did a somersault trying to stop at Tom's feet.
Tom knelt to pet it. "I wonder where it came from. Do you think it may be a stray looking for a home?"
"Maybe it belongs to one of the new families in town," answered Peter. "It doesn't look lost or starving."
Tom felt around the dog's collar for some kind of identification. All he found was a round hard disc with a strange symbol on it. "Look at this, Peter! What does it mean?"
Puzzled, they stared at the symbol. It had two circles. The inner circle framed the shape of a bear. From this center, four lines divided the rest of the symbol into four equal parts.
Suddenly a shrill whistle pierced the air. The dog perked its ears, then shot off in the direction of the sound. Tom and Peter ran after it. Moments later, they stood face to face with a boy about their own age. He smiled and greeted them with a friendly, "Hi, I'm Colin."
"I'm Tom and this is my friend Peter," said Tom. "Is this your dog?"
"Sort of," answered Colin. "I found her on the mountain last week when we passed an old cabin. I whistled and she came running."
"You found her on the mountain? What were you doing up there?" Tom looked toward the mysterious mountain that reached high into the clouds behind the King's palace.
"We were moving to Troth," answered Colin.
"Where from?" asked Peter.
"Lucidia," answered Colin.
"You mean the evil Baron's land?" Tom felt excited--and a bit afraid. He had never met anyone from that mysterious land on the other side of the mountain.
Colin frowned. "What do you mean--evil? Lucidia is a good place," he answered.
Tom wanted to ask why Colin's family had left Lucidia if it were such a good place, but he didn't. Maybe he'd ask later.
"Anyway, she's been following me ever since," continued Colin.
"Then she probably belongs to someone up there on the mountain," said Peter.
"She's mine now," said Colin. "She really likes me. Don't you, Sasha?" The little dog wagged her fluffy tail until her whole body shook.
"We looked for some kind of identification on her," said Tom, "and we found this strange symbol. Do you know what it means?" Tom lifted the little dog in his arms and held the disc up for Colin to see.
"Sure. That's a quartered circle. It's a great magic sign. Circles are sacred. The four lines point to the spirits of the North, East, South and West. The bear in the middle stands for somebody's special animal power."
"That's weird," said Tom. He quickly dropped the disc.
"Let's take the dog back to that cabin where you found her," said Peter. "I want to see what it looks like on the mountain."
"We're not supposed to go up there." said Tom. He remembered one of Dad's warnings about the mountain--something about strange rituals in the forest. But he wasn't sure. It can't be too dangerous, he thought to himself. Colin got here safely.
"We already have food for the trip," said Peter, as if he hadn't heard Tom.
"If we climb to the top, we can see my country," said Colin.
"Wow! That's awesome!" Peter's eyes sparkled. "Let's go..."
"Wait!" interrupted Tom. "You're forgetting something. We have to go to the King's reading first."
"Reading? Yuck! That sounds boring!" said Colin.
"It's not boring at all," said Tom. "The King reads to us from the Book of Truth. It's great! Then we eat a yummy breakfast afterwards. Hey, why don't you come along?"
"No way!" Colin backed away.
"We can climb the mountain afterwards, right?" Peter sounded impatient.
"Well... I guess," said Tom.
"All right! Where do we meet?"
"How about right outside the palace gates?"
"Sounds good. See you guys then." Colin turned and walked away. "C'mon Sasha!" The little dog bounded after him.
Tom was still thinking about Lucidia as he and Peter walked toward the King's garden. "Peter, did you see the symbol Colin was wearing? It had an animal on it too--just like Sasha's sign. Only Colin's animal was a snake. What do you think it means?"
"I don't know. Maybe the snake is Colin's power animal. Maybe it has some kind of magic."
"I didn't like it," said Tom. "It looked spooky!"
Peter shrugged. "Don't be so picky."
Go to Chapter 2
Molly heard the doorbell ring even before she had dressed. Who'd be here so early in the morning? she wondered.
"Molly, someone is here to see you," called her dad.
Molly pulled on a blue jumper, fastened her sandals, and brushed her brown hair into a pony tail. Then she ran to the door.
A girl her own age stood at the doorstep. Molly recognized her at once. Just a few days ago she and Tom had watched her family move into the green house down the road.
"Hi, I am Lucy. Can you play with me?"
"Let me ask." Molly ran to the kitchen and told Mom and Dad about the visitor.
"Molly, you can go with Lucy as long as you promise to be at the palace for the reading at eight o'clock," said Dad. "I don't want you to miss the King's message."
"I know, Dad. I'll see you there. Maybe Lucy and I can go together."
The two girls ran to Lucy's house.
"My mom is making pancakes. Do you want to eat with us?" asked Lucy.
"I can't. I have to go to the palace and hear the reading. Then we'll all eat breakfast with the King. Do you want to come..."
"Do you have to be there every day?" interrupted Lucy with a frown.
"Yes," answered Molly. She was beginning to feel uncomfortable.
"Does your King make you go?"
"I don't think so," answered Molly. "We just always go."
"It won't matter if you miss just once. Your parents won't care. Wouldn't they want you to spend time with a new friend?"
Lucy sounded so sincere--and the pancakes smelled delicious. They made Molly feel very hungry. Suddenly she found herself sitting at the table and eating breakfast with her new friend. She had completely forgotten about the King--and her father's warning.
When Molly walked home later that morning, she didn't feel so good. She had had fun with Lucy, but... why did her stomach feel funny--as if she was afraid? She thought about her Dad. Did he know that she had skipped the reading? "Probably not," she told herself. But the unhappy feeling didn't go away.
Suddenly she heard the bells on the King's coach. She ran to the side of the road and hid behind a big tree.
"Why am I hiding?" said Molly out loud to herself. "I always love to see His beautiful horses. And my King and I always wave to each other... But today I don't feel like waving."
Molly felt so sad and lonely that she began to cry. She wanted to wave to the King but didn't dare. She just peeked out from behind the tree.
There He was, looking right at her. Her kind and wonderful King! He waved to her, but today He didn't smile. He looked sad. Almost as if He too were crying. Then He was gone.
Go to Chapter 3
"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil."
When Molly walked into her house, she knew something was different. Her Mom and Dad weren't as cheerful as usual. They looked serious.
Have they been talking about me? wondered Molly. Do they know that I skipped the reading this morning? Her heart beat so hard she was sure they would hear it.
"Molly, are you wearing your armor?" Dad's voice sounded concerned, not angry.
Molly relaxed. He didn't know.
"What armor, Dad?"
"The armor the King gave us this morning. Remember, He told us to wear it all the time because of the war."
"The war? What do you mean, Dad?" Molly didn't dare look at him. She wanted to hide--just as when the King passed her on the road.
"Didn't you hear the King's reading this morning?" Dad looked surprised.
"No." Molly could barely whisper the word.
"Why not?" He sounded sad.
"I stayed at Lucy's house," she whispered. Then she ran over to her father and threw her arms around him. "I'm sorry," she cried.
Dad picked her up and held her close. He didn't say anything for a long time. The only sound in the room was Molly's sniffles. Finally he began to explain. "Molly, the Baron's people are invading our Kingdom."
"The Baron's people?" Molly's brown eyes grew big with wonder.
"Remember, the evil Baron hates the King. He has always been trying to win the King's people over to his side. But he was afraid to attack us openly. Now his people are sneaking in secretly."
"How can they do that?" Sensing danger, Molly looked first at Dad, then at Mom.
"They have disguised themselves as the King's people, so that we can hardly tell them apart," answered Dad. "He is sending them here to separate us from our King."
"And from each other," added Mom.
"How could they separate us from our King, when He always takes care of us?" asked Molly. "I don't understand."
"What kept you from coming to hear the King's message this morning?" Dad's voice sounded sadder than she'd ever heard it.
"Lucy wanted me to have breakfast with her. Her mom had made pancakes. And... and.. I wanted the pancakes."
Mom took Molly's hand. "The only way we can be separated from the King is when we want something else more than Him," she said quietly.
Molly stared at the cracks in the floor until tears blurred her vision. "I'm so sorry," she cried. Her voice shook with her sobs. "Will the King ever forgive me?"
Mom's gentle hand stroked her hair. "He always forgives when we are sorry and tell him we were wrong," she said softly. "But I'm sorry you missed one of the most important messages the King has ever given us. We can explain it to you, but it won't be the same as hearing it straight from Him."
"Please tell me," said Molly, wiping her tears as she straightened her back. "I do want to hear it."
"From now on, we'll not only go to hear the King's reading each morning," said Mom. "We'll also help each other put on His armor. It will keep us safe."
"You mean, if we don't wear it, we'll be in danger?"
"That's right," said Mom.
"But what's the armor?" Molly was confused.
"The armor is invisible..." began Dad.
"But it's just as real as the air we breathe," added Mom.
"It has six parts," continued Dad. "The first is the Belt of Truth. We put it on by remembering what is written in the Book of Truth. Only when we know the King's special Truths, can we tell if something is true or not."
"Oh!" Molly's brown eyes lit up with excitement. "When Lucy said it didn't matter if I missed the reading this morning, I didn't know how to answer her. Would the Belt of Truth have helped me know what to say?
"It would," said Dad, "It would also help you understand how much the King loves you."
Just then the someone knocked on the door and Mom went to open it. Moments later Molly heard her ask in a frightened voice, "But where is Tom?" Once more Molly's stomach became tight like a drum inside. What could have happened to her brother?
Go to Chapter 4
A Dangerous Plan
Tom and Peter hurried through the King's garden and sat down on the grass in front of the palace. He didn't see his parents or all his other friends, but he knew they would all there. No one wanted to miss the King's special message.
At the top of the steps, stood the King. His snowy white hair glimmered in the sunlight, and He had the kindest face Tom had ever seen. Tom felt a happy glow inside when the King looked right at him. He's so great! thought Tom. But why does He look so serious this morning?
The King opened the Book of Truth and began to read about a war. Tom was surprised to hear that his wonderful King had enemies.
"Who would want to fight against Him?" he whispered to Peter.
"I don't know," whispered Peter back. "But if the King said that there's a war, it must be true."
"... therefore you need the armor every day," said the King.
The armor? Tom decided he'd better listen more carefully. He really tried. He wanted to know about this war and how to put on the armor--whatever it was. But he missed most of the message. For just as the King began to talk about putting on the belt of truth, Sasha ran into the garden. She rushed straight to Tom, bounced up on his lap and licked his nose. How can a kid listen--even to the King telling about a scary war--when a funny little dog wants to play?
Tom ate breakfast with Peter and some other guys. He watched the little dog run in and out between the tables, always ready to lick a hand and grab a bite to eat.
"Come, Sasha," called Tom when he and Peter were leaving the garden. Sure enough, she heard him and came running.
Colin was waiting at the gate.
"You bet," said Peter.
"I'm glad you guys have Sasha," said Colin. "She keeps running away from me."
"How long will this trip take?" asked Tom. He still wasn't sure it was such a good idea. "I have to be home for dinner."
"Do you always have to do what your parents tell you?" asked Colin.
"I think so." Actually Tom wasn't sure. He tried to remember something the King had said this morning. Something about the helpful instructions written in the Book of Truth. If I knew what it said, I would know how to answer Colin's question, he thought. I think it says something about obeying my parents.
"Peter, what does the book of Truth say about parents?" he finally asked.
Peter shrugged. "I don't remember," he answered. "But why don't we stop by my house and leave a note. Then nobody will care if we come home late."
"Great idea. Let's go!" shouted Colin. He didn't seem the least worried about what his parents might think.
Tom hesitated. "You're sure you know the way?" he asked Colin.
"Of course. I came from there just last week, remember? And lots of people are living up there. If we get lost, they'll help us. Some even have special powers."
Peter was excited. "Sounds great! Don't be a wimp, Tom."
That did it! Tom didn't want to be a wimp. "Okay, I'm coming," he said.
When they passed Peter's house, Peter ran into the kitchen, scribbled a short note and left it on the table. "Gone to the mountains to return a stray dog. See you tonight. Peter and Tom."
Then they started up the mountain. Colin led the way.
Go to Chapter 5
The first part of the climb was fun. The crooked trail led upward through the forest, where Sasha kept chasing rabbits and chipmunks. The boys grabbed her when they spotted some deer. She would have scattered the flock in a moment. After watching the deer for a few minutes, they continued upwards, munching on homemade cookies and blueberries growing along the trail.
Suddenly the trail divided in two, and Colin wasn't sure which way to go. "Let's try going to the left," he finally suggested. "It looks wider. They probably both lead to the same place anyway."
"You mean to your country?" Tom felt a twinge of fear. Maybe they should turn around. But he didn't want to say it.
Colin didn't answer, so they just kept climbing. Their path became steeper and steeper--and the blueberries were long gone. Now only Sasha seemed to enjoy the climb. The more tired Tom felt, the more he thought about home. "It's getting awfully late," he said.
"Yeah. Maybe we'd better turn back," said Peter.
"I agree," said Tom. "I don't think we're going to find Sasha's cabin."
"Come on. It's just a little bit further to the top," said Colin. "There we can see the other side. And the path ahead is smoother and easier to climb."
Silently, they continued upward. But each time they thought they were almost at the top, they saw another part of the mountain up ahead. Finally even Colin agreed to turn around.
The boys scampered and slid down the stony area. But when they came to the end of the smooth slope, they couldn't find the trail. Everything seemed different now that they were looking down instead of up. Besides, the sun was quickly disappearing behind the mountain.
"Come on, you guys," shouted Colin, trying to sound brave. "We'll just make our own way. Follow me!"
Sasha scampered ahead. The boys followed as fast as they could. They didn't know what else to do. But the fun had faded and they had no more food.
"My stomach is growling," said Peter.
"We should have saved some of our snacks," answered Tom. He thought about the dinner he had missed.
"I didn't know we'd be gone all day," said Peter. "I sure wish we were home!"
"But since we're not, we'd better try to put on that armor the King talked about," said Tom. "Then at least we'll be safe, even if we have to stay on the mountain all night."
Go to Chapter 6
The Mysterious Cabin
Hey, I see lights ahead," shouted Colin. "Someone lives up here."
"Is this the cabin we were looking for?" asked Tom.
"No, but that doesn't matter. Maybe they can give us some food." Colin's voice sounded confident.
"And show us the way home," added Peter.
The boys started running again. They jumped over bushes and rocks that they could barely see in the dim shadows of the setting sun. When they came to the cabin they stopped to catch their breath.
Tom looked at Colin. "Why don't you knock on the door?" he suggested. Something about the place made him feel creepy.
"Sure," said Colin. "Wait here."
Tom was happy to wait. He didn't want to get any closer.
About five minutes later, when Colin returned, the sun had disappeared. The moon was up and lit his face enough to show a big smile.
"They want us to come inside," he announced.
"Who are they?" asked Tom.
"Two men and a girl. They're from my country, and they can help us find the way home."
"How?" asked Tom. He wasn't sure he wanted their help. This whole place seemed spooky.
"They are spiritists," answered Colin.
"What are spiritists?" asked Peter.
"Channels, mediums or shamans."
"What do they do?" Peter sounded curious.
"They talk with spirits and do a bunch of rituals."
"What kind of spirits?"
"The spirits of the mountain or the trees. Or some wise spirit person or animal."
"How do they talk to them?"
"They chant special words and meditate until they feel super relaxed. Sometimes they use drums and drugs. When they get into a trance, the spirits come and talk to them."
"What do they talk about?" Peter was fascinated.
"All kinds of things. Spirit beings are very intelligent and know all kinds of things we don't know. Sometimes they even tell us about the future."
"Are they always right?" asked Tom. This spiritism stuff didn't make a lot of sense. And it sure didn't fit what he knew about the King.
"Sometimes. But not always. I think they know more than we do. So we better listen to them!" Colin was heading back to the front door.
"The King once said that if a prophecy doesn't come true, that proves the person is a false prophet," said Tom. He felt pleased that he had remembered something important from the Book of Truth.
"A guy can't always be perfect," shouted Colin.
"But the King can!" shouted Tom back. "When my King says something, He's always right!" He hurried away from the cabin, pulling Peter with him. "We need to talk, Peter. This is serious."
"Okay, okay. What's the matter?"
"I remember something else the King said. This morning, he mentioned people who talk with those strange spirits."
"Yeah. I remember that, too. They talk with spirits and do magic."
"Those are evil spirits. They hate the King."
"They do? You mean they're part of this war?"
"They are! And if they hate the King, they'll probably hate us too. Peter, we've got to get out of here!"
The door to the cabin opened and a man came out. "Hi, boys," he shouted. "Come on in. Do you need something to eat?"
"Tom, I'm really hungry," said Peter. "So what if they're spiritists? They can at least keep us from starving--and maybe even help us get home."
"No. Don't go near them," whispered Tom, grabbing Peter's arm. "I think they want to trick us. They are not on the King's side, remember?"
"Well, I'm not afraid," said Peter. "I'm going in. You can stay out here by yourself."
"Wait, Peter. You can't go in. You're not even wearing the King's armor. Remember what the King said this morning?"
Peter stopped. "No, what?" he said impatiently.
"Since we belong to the King, we're holy and special. He told us not to have anything to do with the evil Baron or his spooky spirits."
"Please don't go in, Peter." Tom was pleading with his friend. "Let's try to put on the armor. The King's Spirit is good and His Spirit is in us. He'll help us remember."
Both stood quietly for a moment. Suddenly Tom burst out, "I think I know what to do! We put on the belt of Truth by remembering what the Book of Truth tells us."
"I know lots of stuff from the Book of Truth. What should we remember right now?"
"I just thought of something. It says, 'You who belong to the King have already won, because the King is far greater than any other power.' He'll keep us safe. The Baron's people will only get us into more trouble."
"Let's get out of here then," whispered Peter. "I think I see a path." He grabbed Tom's hand and the two ran as fast as they could in the moonlight.
"Hey! Wait for me," cried Colin. "I'm coming, too."
Go to Chapter 7
It felt good to be running on a trail again -- even though they could barely see it. When they finally ran out of breath, they all flopped to ground. Tom turned on his back and stared up at the big round moon. It reminded him of the King who made it. "Thank you, King, for helping us," he whispered.
Peter interrupted his thoughts. "You guys, I don't think this path leads back to the valley." He sounded worried.
"Right," said Colin. "It takes us around to the back of the mountain. Toward my country."
"How do we get home then?" asked Tom. "I don't want to go by that cabin again."
"I guess we have to sleep here on the mountain tonight." Peter's voice shook.
"Let's try to think about the armor again," said Tom. He felt cold and scared.
This time Peter was ready. "Okay. What do we do?"
"I just remembered something else from the King's Book," answered Tom. "Maybe we can use it to put on the breastplate of righteousness. The King once said it Himself to me: 'I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth.'"
"Are you sure he's with us?" said Peter. "The palace is a long way from here."
Tom thought for a moment. "When we trust Him, he'll be with us--no matter where we go. He said so!"
"Even when we do bad things?"
"I'm not sure. I guess we don't really deserve his help. We just took off on this trip without asking him about it."
"You mean, when we do our own thing, the King doesn't help us?" Peter sounded worried.
"I'm not sure." Tom was quiet for a moment. Then he smiled. "I just told him I was sorry, and I'm sure he heard me. He can hear everything, no matter how far away. The Book of Truth says...."
"Forget your Book of Truth," interrupted Colin. "You don't have to listen to that old stuff. Do your own thing! You own your life. Why should you listen to the King--or your parents? Decide for yourself!"
"The King knows a lot of things we don't know," answered Tom. "And he has power to make things come out right...."
"So do lots of other gods and spirits. They'll help us. I know a chant...."
"I don't want to hear your chant," interrupted Tom.
"Stop arguing," shouted Peter. "We've got to do something. We need a place to sleep." He followed the path past a huge boulder and disappeared in the dark. Tom and Colin followed and found themselves at the edge of a steep incline. From below came a strange throbbing sound.
"It sounds like drums," said Peter.
"Who's down there?" asked Tom.
"Just some witches," answered Colin. "And they're doing what I started to tell you--drumming and chanting to raise power."
"Does it work?" asked Peter.
"Of course!" said Colin. "Go and try it yourself."
"Are you kidding?" said Tom. "They're using the Baron's power. We've got to get out of here! C'mon, Peter."
"Go and hide, if you're scared of a little power," teased Colin. "I'm heading down there. They'll offer cake and wine to the gods--but the people get to eat some of it. Wanna come, Pete?"
Peter hesitated. "I'm starving! But I don't want to go down there."
"I'm off, then. See you wimps later." Colin headed down the hill will Shasta at his heals.
"Now what do we do?" whispered Peter. "Colin's gone. This mountain is full of the Baron's people. We're completely lost. And I'm really scared."
"Me too," whispered Tom. "But I found a place to sleep. Right behind this rock."
Go to Chapter 8
"where's Tom?" cried Molly. She and Dad had hurried to the front to see who was there. The messenger turned out to be Peter's older sister, Tammy.
"He and Peter and a new boy went up the mountain to return a dog," answered Tammy. "They left a note at my house. It didn't say how far they planned to go. Just 'See you tonight!'"
"They went up the mountain? They know they're not supposed to go there. It's too dangerous!" Dad looked surprised and concerned.
"They know the Baron's people are hiding all over the mountain," said Mom.
"And there are mountain lions, rattle snakes...." added Tammy.
"They can't get far up the mountain and back again by this evening," said Dad. "I better go and look for them."
"My Dad would want to go with you," said Tammy, "but he left yesterday on a special errand for the King."
"Can I go with you, Dad?" begged Molly. "Please?"
"Wouldn't it be best to talk with the King first?" said Mom.
"Yes, it would," said Dad. "He'll show us what to do! Meanwhile Molly and I will get ready for whatever He tells us."
Molly, too, felt better after remembering the King. Nothing is impossible for him, she thought. He'll help us find Tom.
As soon as Tammy left, Dad and Molly began to pack sleeping bags and warm clothes. Mom packed them enough food for a couple of days. Then, after a hurried lunch, they all started out for the palace.
A royal escort greeted them at the gate. "Peace be with you, friends of the King," he said with a bow. "The King sent me to meet you."
"He did?" Dad sounded surprised. "Please take us to him, then."
"How did the King know we were coming?" whispered Molly.
"He knows everything," whispered Mom.
The escort motioned for them to follow. They went up the wide marble steps, through some big golden doors, through a large entry hall, through another set of huge doors, and finally into the largest and most beautiful room Molly had ever seen.
Large crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling and bathed the room in a soft light. They shone on beautiful golden furniture, spectacular plants, and high walls covered with paintings of men, women and children doing all sorts of exciting and dangerous things.
"Those are scenes from the King's great battles," whispered Dad. "You've heard about some of the King's special heroes--like David over there." Dad pointed across the room at a painting showing a shepherd boy saving a frightened little lamb from a lion.
"He really loved the King, didn't he?" Molly whispered back.
Dad nodded. "Some of the other heroes aren't famous at all," he continued. "But they trusted the King to give them victory in the middle of all kinds of difficulties."
Molly glanced at a painting of a girl climbing down a cliff to save a little child. She wished she could be one of those secret friends of the King. One that He would remember always....
But right now they must find Tom. Suddenly Molly saw the King sitting on a magnificent golden throne at the other end of the room. He motioned for them to come closer.
As they walked toward the King, Molly couldn't take her eyes off him. Here, He seemed more wonderful than ever. So majestic, so great--yet so kind. His hair was as snowy white as the coat he was wearing. Yet, his skin was firm and smooth, without a wrinkle. His brown eyes sparkled with love. How could he be both old and young at the same time? she wondered.
And how could such an important King be so good to them? When they reached the throne, all three fell down on their knees before Him. The King's greatness made them feel both small and special at the same time. All kinds of feelings flowed together into one big happy one.
"Dear King, I love you!" whispered Molly over and over. She couldn't think of anything else to say. He was so wonderful!
"Welcome, dear friends." The King smiled to them. "Please stand up and tell me what important matter brings you here today."
Suddenly Molly remembered how sad He looked when He passed her a few hours earlier. "Dear King," she whispered, "I'm so sorry I made you sad this morning. Thank you for forgiving me. I don't ever want to make you sad again."
"Come to me," said the King gently, reaching out for Molly's hand. Before she knew it, He had lifted her up onto His lap and held her close. "Oh King, thank you," whispered Molly, feeling so safe in His arms.
Gently, the King put her back on the floor. Then He looked at Dad and said quietly, "You want to know what has happened to Tom."
"That's right," said Dad. "You see right into our hearts, don't you?"
"My Father and I see everything that happens to our people," said the King. His voice sounded more serious now. "This is a difficult time for all of you. Until this week, you have only known the peace and safety of our Kingdom." He looked at Molly. "It is hard, especially for the children, to understand what this war is all about."
Molly nodded. He could even read her heart and mind.
"Dear King, what should we do about Tom?" asked Dad.
"Go find him. He will need your help."
"How will we know the way?"
"I will lead you."
"Are you going with us, dear King?" Molly was surprised and excited.
"Molly, even though I stay here, my Spirit always goes with you. I watch you all the time."
"But, how can we hear you when you'll be far away?"
"I will remind you of what I have already told you--the things written in the Book of Truth. I will speak to you in a gentle, silent voice in your thoughts. Sometimes there won't even be words--just a sense of rightness that tells you that you are following my way."
"What if we don't hear? What if we choose in the wrong direction?"
"Then you will feel uneasy--as if you are separated from me, just as you felt this morning, Molly."
"O thank you, King!" Molly was sure they would find Tom soon.
"Is there anything else we need to know before we start out?" asked Dad.
"Don't forget to put on the armor each day," said the King. "Let it remind you of all the truths you need to know each day."
"We will remember," said Dad.
"Come here so I can bless you." The King laid one hand on Dad's dark hair and the other on Molly's brown curls. Then He promised to protect them on their journey.
The escort, who had been waiting until now, came forward. Dad, Mom and Molly thanked the King again, then followed the escort outside. When they reached the gate, Mom kissed them good-bye and went home to pray for them all. Dad and Molly headed north toward the mountain.
Go to Chapter 9
Warmed by the early afternoon sun, Molly skipped and ran along the path. She felt so strong and excited after their visit to the King. Sharing this adventure with Dad was exciting. "I'm so glad the King promised to help us!" she shouted.
The first part of the climb was easy. Dad had slowed his pace, and Molly's excitement gave her extra energy to keep up. But after an hour, her legs began to feel like jello.
"Let's rest for a while," said Dad. They sat on a large smooth boulder next to the path and looked down at the royal city and the Kings palace below. After some cookies and juice, Dad was ready to go.
"Wait Dad. I'm too tired," mumbled Molly.
"The King didn't promise it would be easy," said Dad gently. "He just promised to be with us and give us everything we needed for this trip. Let's ask him for strength."
When he had prayed, Molly smiled. "Thanks. I'll make it!"
A little later, Dad stopped by a large flat rock. "Time to eat," he said. "You've been a real trooper, and this is a perfect place to eat."
They devoured the dinner Mom had prepared--turkey, carrots, cherries and juice... Then Molly stretched out on the rock. "Isn't this the best dinner you ever ate, Dad?"
"Sure is!" said Dad.
"I'm ready to go again."
"Let's put on the armor first," said Dad. "We didn't finish this morning."
"You were just beginning to tell about the belt of truth," said Molly. "How do I put it on?"
"By remembering the King's truths. The most important part is what the Book says about the King. Let's remember how strong and wise and kind he is. Since he always cares for you, you never need to be afraid."
"Is that all? That seems too easy."
"There is a lot more we need to know about our King and what He promises us. But this a good beginning."
Molly clasped her hands and smiled up toward Heaven. "Thank you, dear King, for being so strong and kind, and for always taking care of us," she prayed.
"Thank you for being our Helper and Guide," continued Dad.
When Dad and Molly started climbing again, the sun was already setting. Soon they came to the place where the path divided.
"Which way should we take?" asked Molly.
"We can trust the King to lead us," answered Dad confidently. "If we take the wrong way, he will tell us. Let's try the path to the right."
They did, then both became very quiet. They were listening for the King's silent voice.
"I don't hear anything," said Molly. She felt disappointed, because she really looked forward to hearing his voice way up here on the mountain.
"I sense we're on the right track," said Dad.
Molly stood silent for a moment. Then her eyes lit up. "I hear him, too. He just reminded me of something from the Book of Truth. He said, 'I will lead you in the way you should go.' Dad, I'm sure this is the way to go. Thank you, King!" She felt so happy she wanted to skip and run. But the path was a little to steep for that.
After they had walked for a while, Dad said, "Let's stop and rest again. Then we can talk about the next part of the armor--the Breastplate of Righteousness."
"The breastplate of righteousness."
"What does that mean?"
"Righteousness means being good," explained Dad. "We all know a little bit about what's good, but to really understand it, we have to learn what the King says about goodness."
"Is that why it's so important to hear the reading each morning?"
"Yes. We can only be good--or righteous--by listening to the King and trusting Him to make us right on the inside. Sometimes we feel so strong and good about ourselves that we forget to trust the King. Then we get into trouble."
"I know." Molly thought about what happened early this morning. It seemed like such a long time ago.
"Only our King is perfectly good," continued Dad, "and He wants to share everything He is and has with us--even His own life. That's why he gave us His Spirit to be in us. It's His Holy Spirit that makes us good."
"I don't understand. How do I get this righteousness?"
"By thanking Him for giving you His Holy Spirit to live in you and make you good from the inside out."
"Will you pray first, Dad?"
"Okay. Thank you, dear King, for showing us that we can't be good by ourselves. Thank you for giving us your Holy Spirit to help us be good."
Molly wasn't sure she understood, but she prayed anyway. "Thank you, King, for showing me that I need you all the time. Help me to do what you want me to do."
Dad looked around. "Let's camp here for the night. Soon it'll be too dark to see well." They set up the little tent, rolled out their sleeping bags, and crept inside.
"I wonder where Tom and Peter are sleeping tonight," said Molly.
"So do I, Molly. Let's ask the King to keep them safe."
Go to Chapter 10
Plunk, plunk, plunk....
Tom squirmed. That sound. What was it? No, it couldn't be rain. The sky was so clear when they fell asleep on the trail last night. Sure enough! Big raindrops were hitting his face, his hair, his hands... Streams of water trickled down his neck and under the collar of his shirt.
Tom didn't want to move. His clothes felt too soggy and sticky. So he lay absolutely still for a few more minutes, trying to ignore all the wetness. Maybe it was just a bad dream.
Suddenly he heard a scream. Peter was hopping around swinging his arms like a jumping-jack. "It's raining! Everything is wet! I'm soaked."
"Just be quiet," yelled Colin. "I'm dripping too."
"Colin! What are you doing here? I thought you left..." Tom was both surprised and relieved.
"Well, I came back."
"What was the ritual like?" asked Peter.
"It was okay," answered Colin. "But I don't want to talk about it right now."
"So what are we going to do?" asked Peter. "We don't have food, our clothes are wet..."
"Look for some more blueberries," mumbled Tom.
"I've heard there are caves around here," said Colin. "Maybe we could find one. Then we could start a fire and get warm."
"How could we start a fire? Do you have any matches? Dry ones?" Peter sounded doubtful.
Tom ignored the question. "No point staying here anyway. Come on, let's see what we can find."
Slowly and painfully, he turned over. When he tried to stand up, his hands and knees made little craters in the wet ground. "Yuck," he said. Then he started to run. "Hurry you guys," he shouted over his shoulder. "Let's get out of this place."
Peter and Colin followed. Sasha, looking like a dirty mop, scampered behind the boys down the path, splashing through the rain and puddles. We must be almost to the bottom of the mountain, thought Tom after a while. Anyway, running feels warmer than just standing in one place--or lying in the mud.
Suddenly Sasha, who had been leading, took off to the right, barking furiously.
The boys stopped. "She must be chasing a squirrel," said Peter.
"There's a path going off here," said Colin.
"Sasha has disappeared," yelled Tom. "I saw her a moment ago, and now she's gone." He rushed to the place he last saw her. "I can hear her," he shouted, "but I can't figure out where she is!"
Now all three heard her. Her barking seemed to come from deep down in the earth.
"She must have fallen into a hole. C'mon. We have to find her."
"Here's the hole!" Suddenly they were all staring into a strange rectangular hole in the earth. A couple of large branches had been pulled over the opening as if someone wanted to hide it.
"Do you think it is a trap to catch wild animals?" asked Peter.
"We'll find out," answered Tom. He and Colin were already pulling the branches away. "Look, there's a ladder!" announced Colin. "Guess it isn't a trap. I'm going down to get the dog." He eased himself backwards down the ladder into the hole. After a quick wave, he disappeared.
"Where are you?" shouted Peter. He started down the ladder. Tom followed.
Go to Chapter 11
when he reached the bottom, Tom stopped to look around. The hole was about as wide as his bed and covered with soggy leaves. They may have saved Sasha's life when she fell, he thought.
His wet feet shuffled through the leaves, pushing some aside. This couldn't have been dug too long ago, he thought, looking at the shovel marks. Then he walked through an opening on one side of the hole. It was just a little shorter than an ordinary doorway. Now he stood in a tunnel. Along the rugged ceiling hung small round lamps.
He heard footsteps come up behind him, so he turned and asked, "Why are these lights here? Who puts oil in them?"
"Beats me," answered Colin. "They look like the ones we use in my country, but I sure don't know what they're doing here."
"Where are we?" Tom started walking again. "Did you know about this tunnel?"
"No, but I wish I knew where it ends up."
"So do I," said Tom. "At least it's dry in here."
The tunnel suddenly opened up into a wide room. In spite of the dark brown clay walls, it seemed bright with light. Shelves lined the walls and they were piled high with boxes. Peter was already checking them out.
Sasha came bouncing toward him, joyfully wagging her tail.
"Hi there, funny pup!" Tom laughed as she leaped up to lick his face.
"Come here, you guys! Look what I found. A box of crackers." Peter's words were muffled by all he had stuffed into his mouth. "And here's a big bag of peanuts!"
"What's in these cans? Something to drink?" Tom 's pocketknife had a an opener, and it didn't take long to make a hole big enough for drinking. "It's grape juice," he shouted. "It's great! Have some."
The juice and snacks tasted so good the boys forgot about their wet clothes and being lost. Actually, their clothes were beginning to dry, for the tunnel was nice and warm."
"Those lamps give off heat," explained Colin.
"This box is filled with books," shouted Peter. "Strange books, I'd say, with wizards, trolls and monsters on the covers."
"This box has books and charts on astrology," shouted Colin. "Medicine wheel astrology, Babylonian astrology, Aztec calendars..."
"These shelves are loaded with toys and games," said Colin. "I've seen these dolls before. This one with the stars on her head and a magic wand has special power. And these others change into all kinds of animals. We call them shape-shifters. This big beautiful one tells fortunes." Colin lifted up a big box. "It comes with crystal balls, Tarot cards, charts for astrology and numerology...."
"Numerology. It uses numbers to tell who you are and what is going to happen to you. Just like astrology."
"This thing looks like a spider web decorated with feathers. What is it, Colin?"
"Oh, that's dreamcatcher. It has magic power to stop bad dreams. It only lets good dreams and spirits speak to you."
"What's this word, Colin? The one that starts with Oui...?" Peter pointed to a big flat box.
"Wow, that's just what we need! A Ouija Board!"
Go to Chapter 12
Never use a Ouija Board! It opens doors to occult forces!
"What's a Ouija Board?" asked Tom.
"A fun game," answered Colin. "We can ask it questions, and it will answer and tell us what to do. Look! It's easy." He set the box in the middle of the floor and opened it. Then he pulled out a shiny glass object the size of half a peach. The bottom was smooth and flat, the top rounded. "This is a great pointer."
"Pointer? How can a circle be a pointer?"
"You'll see. Some Ouija boards just have a triangle-shaped piece of wood with a hole in the center. I like this round one better." He handed it to Tom.
"It feels good," said Tom, letting the rounded side fill his hand. "But it sure is heavy."
Tom put the little glass piece on the wooden board. "It slides so easily," he said, moving the smooth flatness of the glass slowly across the shiny polish of the board. He admired the colorful numbers and letters that circled the center of the large surface.
"It's beautiful," he whispered.
"We have one just like this at home," said Colin proudly. "I play it all the time."
"How does it work?" asked Peter.
"I'll show you. What question do you want to ask it?"
"If your board is so smart, ask it how we can get home," said Peter.
"It's better to start with a yes or no question," explained Colin. "Like 'Should we continue through this tunnel?'"
"Okay, that's a good one. Ask it," said Peter.
"Come on. Give me a break," said Tom. This beautiful game must be just another one of the Baron's tricks. "A game is going to tell us how to get home? It doesn't have a brain".
"I'll show you how it works. Here we go," said Colin, ignoring Tom's remark. "First we meditate together and ask the spirits to speak to us."
"The spirits?" Tom was sure the King wouldn't like this game--or those spirits. At the same time, he was curious. Maybe the board could help them find the way.
"Are you getting all wimpy again?" teased Colin. "This game is okay. I know it is. Remember, I've played it a lot. It has magical power! You'll see." He crossed his legs under him, lifted up his hands, pressed his palms together and closed his eyes.
Tom felt even more uncomfortable when Colin began to speak words that sounded like a prayer. Who was he praying to? Surely not just to the Ouija Board. It couldn't hear anything.
Colin stopped his spooky meditation. "When I ask the question, we'll all put our fingertips on the glass. Don't press on it or push it. It will move by its own power. Then it'll stop on top of the letters that spell the answer. Ready?"
"Cool!" said Peter as he rested his fingertips on the pointer. Tom hesitated, then he slowly touched the pointer with his fingers.
"Okay, here's the question. Should we continue through this tunnel?"
For a moment nothing happened. Then Tom felt a strange sensation. The crystal moved. Was it alive? Tom didn't think anyone was pushing it. In fact, he had tried to stop it--just to see what would happen, but he couldn't even slow it down. It obviously had a force of its own.
"See it stopped on Y. I know what the answer is," shouted Colin. "Keep your fingers on it. It'll move again."
Sure enough. the pointer kept moving. It stopped by the E, then went on to the S.
"See? It works!" Colin sounded triumphant. "What do you want to ask next?"
Tom felt a growing sense of danger. "Put it away," he started. "This force is not the power of the Kingdom. I'm getting out of here."
Peter frowned. "Aw, come on, Tom. Don't be a bad sport. There's nothing wrong with this game."
Colin agreed. "Yea, there's nothing dangerous here, Tom. Don't quit."
"Two against one, Tom," said Peter. "We're asking some more questions."
"Here's one," said Colin. "Where will this tunnel end?"
"But that's not a 'yes' or 'no' question."
"That's all right. It could be a short answer."
Tom didn't want to know the pointer's answer. He turned and walked back outside to the ladder and sat down on the lowest rung. It wasn't very comfortable, but it was better than being inside with that crazy game. Sasha seemed to like it better outside too. She licked his hand. At least he still had one friend left.
Tom looked up at the sky. It had stopped raining, and the sun was coming out. The patches of blue sky reminded him of the King. He wished he could talk with Him. Just to know what to do. He began to review the parts of the King's armor that he remembered-- the Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness, then something about Peace... That was all he could remember. But he felt better already. Almost like when the King smiled to him.
"Thank you, King," he whispered.
When Tom walked back inside, Colin was just putting the game back on the shelf.
"We're ready to go," said Peter.
"I don't think we should go this way," said Tom.
"We're going anyway," answered Peter. "But you can go back the way we came, if you like. I want to do what the Ouija Board said. It knows more than we do."
"I don't trust that piece of glass," said Tom. But Colin and Peter weren't listening.
So what should he do? Should he stay with Peter even though his friend was making a bad choice? He thought so. Besides, going back alone would be scary.
Colin was filling his pockets with peanuts. "Come and get some," he said. "This stuff is here to feed hungry travelers like us."
Peter and Tom quickly stuffed their pockets. I'm not sure this is right either, thought Tom. But we can't go on without it. We'd starve to death.
Go to Chapter 13
Under the River
"C'mon, let's get going," urged Peter. He headed for the tunnel, which continued at the far end of the storage area. Sasha's ears perked up, and she bounced past Peter, taking her place at the lead.
"Wait a minute!" Colin ran over to the shelf and grabbed the Ouija Board. "We may need this again."
Tom didn't say anything, but he felt kind of sick inside. Mom and Dad would be terribly worried about him by now. They expected him home last night. Maybe he should go home by himself, after all. But how would he find the way? Confused and uncertain, he just followed Colin and Peter.
The tunnel seemed a bit wider than where they first entered it, but not by much. Tom stopped to check the width. When he stretched his arms straight out, he almost touched the damp, stony walls on each side.
His clothes felt perfectly dry now, and the little energy bulbs continued to light their way. Colin was whistling a strange tune. He acted right at home in this creepy tunnel.
"Do you want to hear a song?" Colin shouted. Without waiting for an answer, he began to sing.
I'm gonna find my way
No matter what you say,
Only I can make my dreams come true.
For faith and energy
Comes from inside of me.
With this pow'r I'll make my world like new.
"I like those words," said Peter. "Especially that part about making all my dreams come true. Sing it again."
Colin did. This time Peter sang with him, for the melody was simple.
Tom thought about the words. They puzzled him. "It sounds like some of the things the King teaches," he said. "But He is the one who fills me with strength. Power doesn't come from myself."
"I have everything I need inside me!" Colin sounded confident.
"I do too," agreed Peter.
"I believe the King gives me everything I need," said Tom. "And I have His life inside me."
"See, we believe the same thing. There's no real difference," said Colin triumphantly.
"But there is a difference. I know there is! You just don't know my King. You don't trust Him!"
"So what? I trust somebody just like your king: our Baron. He has power too. Your King isn't the only ruler in the world."
Tom didn't say anything. He knew that he and Colin didn't believe the same thing, but he didn't want to argue about it. Besides, Colin probably didn't want to know the difference.
They kept walking. The air felt damp to Tom. But Peter was the first one to notice the water dripping from the ceiling. "Hey, it's raining in here! Where's it coming from?"
"Maybe there's a spring nearby? Or..." Colin looked concerned. "Maybe we're under the river, and the water is seeping through."
"Does that mean that we're almost in Lucidia?" Peter sounded both excited and worried at the same time.
"Maybe..." Colin stopped. "Hey, what's that noise?"
They all listened. A peculiar noise rumbled through the tunnel. It grew stronger each moment.
"Sounds like some kind of an engine. It's coming our way. We've got to move." Colin looked around for a place to hide while the thing passed.
"There is no room anywhere," said Peter.
"I saw a small opening in the wall a ways back. Maybe it's big enough," shouted Tom. He was already running the other way. The others raced after him.
Tom was right. There was a niche in the wall. Not big. A large box filled up most of the space. They peeked inside.
"It's empty except for some cans of some sort of liquid," said Colin. "Gasoline, I bet."
"Hurry up! We've got to get in there fast," shouted Tom. He bent the outer edge of the box so that they could squeeze in.
Colin and Peter climbed in first, then Tom dove in at the last moment. They were all crammed together like sardines in a can. Tom squirmed all the way into the box, while Colin and Peter whispered things like "ouch" and "watch where you put your knee" as loudly as they dared.
Seconds later the "thing" passed.
"Wow, it would have smashed us!" whispered Peter.
"Hurry. Get off me!" shouted Colin in a muffled voice. "Your leg is killing me!"
"You're crushing me!" cried Peter as Tom slid backwards out of the box. "And watch your elbow. It's poking me in the ribs."
Go to Chapter 14
"Wow! What was it? Peter, did you see it?" asked Tom. Since he went into the box upside-down, he hadn't seen anything.
"I sure did," said Peter. "It looked like a train, but it ran on big, fat tires instead of a track. The engine was pulling six little boxcarts. One was covered; the others were open and loaded with stuff."
"What kind of stuff?"
"Lots of crates and boxes--like the ones we saw this morning. One had a picture of a weird creature with a long tongue...."
"That reminds me," interrupted Colin, "I left the Ouija Board."
"Forget it. We've got to get out of here. The train may be coming back!"
"Yea, after it unloads all that weird stuff. Hurry!"
They ran deeper into the tunnel. Then, out of breath, they collapsed on the rocky floor. "I have a headache," said Colin.
"Me too," said Peter. "The air is terrible in here."
"And the floor's all wet and slippery from the dripping ceiling."
"I still think we should turn back," said Tom. He didn't want to get any closer to Lucidia.
"I can't move," mumbled Peter. "It's too hard to breathe in here."
"Yeah," agreed Colin. "Besides, the train is back there. If they find us, I have a feeling they aren't going to like us--especially since we found their secret storage place."
Tom had been wondering about all the boxes back in the storage place. "Colin, do you think those boxes had something to do with the war?" He stopped to catch his breath.
"What war?" asked Colin.
"The King talked about people from Lucidia invading our land. Could those games and toys be part of the invasion?"
"Yeah. You came from Lucidia," added Peter. "You must know something about it?"
Colin squirmed. "I don't know anything about this tunnel or the toys. All I know is that the Baron told us to move to Troth and get to know the people."
"But why did he send you to the Kingdom? There must be a reason."
"We were supposed to tell you what we believed and share our things with you."
"You mean the games and toys in all those boxes?"
"I guess." Colin sounded defensive. "Anyway, they're all good things. There's nothing bad about them. You saw how the Ouija Board helped us this morning."
"Yea, great help!" moaned Tom. "Look where we are now!"
"I believe you, Colin," said Peter. "Everything looked pretty good to me."
A terrible thought struck Tom. "Where's Sasha?"
"I haven't seen her since that train passed us." Colin looked around.
"She would have been in front of it. Do you think they saw her?" Tom didn't want to think about that happy little dog being hit.
"Hey, I hear something. It's coming back!"
"The train! What should we do?"
"I can't. I'm too dizzy."
"Look for a hole or cave or something."
"There isn't any. We're trapped!"
At the last minute, they tried running, but the train caught up fast. Finally they just squeezed their bodies against the wall. Tom pulled his stomach tight to make himself even smaller. Maybe the train had enough room to pass. And just maybe the driver wouldn't see them.
But he did. The brakes shrieked as the train slid to a stop. A bright lantern focused straight on the boys. Then Tom heard a deep angry voice shout words he couldn't understand.
Two men jumped out of the engine and grabbed the boys. Pressing their way through the narrow passage between the wall and the side of the train, they pulled the boys to the door of the second car, shoved them into the darkness, and locked the door behind them.
Then the train started moving again.
Go to Chapter 15
As the train chugged toward Lucidia, Tom lay dazed on the shaking floor of the car. The steady noise of the engine muffled all other sounds. Slowly, the strange events of the last two days began to flow through his mind. He and Peter had walked right into enemy territory--in spite of the King's warnings. Now they were caught. How did it happen?
It began so simply. He found the dog--or did the dog find him? Sasha led them to Colin, and Colin led them in search of Sasha's owner. They hadn't asked their parents, and they didn't listen to the King's warnings. If only he had heard...
What did the King say that morning? Something about the enemy pretending to be good--pretending that all could live together in peace... Trying to trick people away from the King to follow the Baron.
"I'm so sorry, dear King," Tom whispered. Then he remembered something very important!
The King is stronger than the Baron! He has forgiven me--and He is here with me!
Suddenly Tom felt a wonderful peace inside. "That's it!" he shouted. "That's the sandals of peace. I just put them on. Thank you, King, for helping me remember."
Was someone moaning? Tom could barely hear the new sounds over the noise of the train. He turned his head to the right, but all he could see was black darkness. He crept toward the sound until he felt a foot with a worn-out sneaker.
"Peter, is that you? Are you hurt?" he yelled.
"Ow, ow," cried Peter. "I think my hand is broken!"
"How did it happen?"
"I fell on it when that mean guy pushed us in here."
"Just lie still, Peter. We'll get help soon." Tom didn't feel nearly as confident as he tried to sound. Would anyone in Lucidia care about Peter's broken hand?"
"Colin, are you here?" he shouted as loud as he could.
"Yes!" yelled Colin from another corner of the car.
"Where are they taking us?"
"I don't know. But I'm sure we're in deep trouble!"
It seemed like hours before the train stopped. Tom heard voices and footsteps outside, then somebody yanked the door open. "Get out!" yelled the man who had pushed them into the car.
"My friend is hurt," began Tom, but the man interrupted impatiently, "Hurry!"
Tom jumped out quickly, then reached up to help Peter. Colin crawled out last.
"Where's the dog?" yelled the man.
The dog? Was Sasha here? Tom climbed back up and looked inside.
There she was! Now he could see a little white bundle of fur lying still by the back wall. He rushed over, picked up the limp shape, and held the black nose close to his own. Yes, she was still breathing. "Thank you, King," he whispered as he hugged the soft little body.
A big man shaped like a wrestler led them toward a large stone building. He wore a purple scarf around his neck. As the icy wind blew the scarf straight out to the side, Tom noticed a symbol he had seen on one of those boxes in the tunnel. It was a pyramid with a big eye inside.
The man walked so fast that Tom barely had time to look around. He just noticed a few bare trees and the freezing wind that blasted their faces with icy sleet. Not like the soft snow that falls in the Kingdom, thought Tom.
The little troupe marched solemnly down a steep stairway inside the building.
"Wait here," said the man. He left them in a cold basement room and locked the door behind him.
Tom laid Sasha on a bench and stroked her gently. Her eyes opened and she tried to lick him.
"I bet the train hit her," said Colin. The others didn't answer. Peter's face looked pale and his hand was red and swollen.
"You'd better sit down," said Tom. Peter sat on the stone floor, leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. Colin sat next to him.
About an hour passed in silence. What could anyone say? Tom thought about the King, but he felt too discouraged to try to remember the armor.
Suddenly a door opened and a pretty woman dressed in a long purple gown came in. She smiled. "I'm Rama, and I've come to help you."
Tom breathed a sigh of relief. At least there was one friendly person in this country.
"Odin told me that someone was hurt. Which one?" Tom and Colin both pointed to Peter. Rama looked at his hand and covered it with some ointment. Then she made a sling from a bright colored cloth.
"Come with me. I'll take you to a more comfortable room."
Up the stairs they went--and halfway down a long hallway. Once again, Tom was carrying Sasha, but this time he felt more hopeful. Rama led them into a room with a sofa, cushioned chairs, dreamy paintings on the walls--and eerie, hypnotic music.
The boys leaned back in their chairs, while Rama talked to them. Her gentle words seemed to float on the mystical sounds of the music. She talked about universal love and global oneness, about working together, and about peace between Lucidia and the Kingdom.
She led them on an imaginary trip into a beautiful meadow where they could talk with animals and experience harmony with nature. There, they imagined meeting a wise woman in shining robes who talked to them about living together in peace and love.
Tom liked what the woman said. She talked about peace and unity between the two lands.... Could that be true? She seemed so sincere and kind. And some of what she said sounded like the King's messages. Tom yawned.
He tried to remember the King's warning, but his mind was getting too sleepy to think or remember anything. He relaxed and just listened to Rama's soothing voice painting lovely pictures in his mind. His eyes wouldn't stay open anymore. It felt so good to sleep.
Go to Chapter 16
Safe with the King
Could that be rain pounding on the tent? Molly woke up in a flash and peeked outside. It was! "Dad, it's pouring!" she cried.
"I'm afraid you're right," answered Dad. "Let's ask the King to show us what to do."
They did. Then they ate some cheese and crackers, rolled up the tent and sleeping bags, and started out in the rain.
"I'm glad we brought these waterproof jackets," said Dad.
"And I'm glad we're going downhill instead of up," said Molly.
"Let's talk about the armor again," said Dad. "We'll need it!"
"Will it protect us against the rain, Dad?"
"Probably not. But it will protect us against getting discouraged or upset about the rain."
"How will it do that?"
"It helps us remember that our King is in control. No matter what happens to those who trust Him, He will use it for good."
"All right, tell me more about the armor. We've talked about the Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness. What comes next?"
"The Shoes of Peace," answered Dad. We have peace inside wherever we go, when we remember that the King loves us, forgives us and helps us. Nothing is impossible for Him. Therefore we never need to be afraid."
"Can we help others have that kind of peace?" asked Molly. She was thinking about Lucy.
"Yes. Sharing our peace with others is real important," answered Dad. "Not that we can give peace to anybody. Each person must receive it from the King."
"What comes after peace?" asked Molly.
"The Shield of Faith."
"Faith! You mean, like believing in the King?" asked Molly.
"Yes, that and more. It includes trusting the King no matter what happens. It's remembering how strong and wise He is, then counting on Him to lead you and take care of you."
"Why is it a shield?"
"Because when you remember that the King is on your side, you don't need to be afraid. Even when bad things happened, the King will still be in control. Your faith in Him will stop all the scary thoughts--just like a shield."
"How do I put it on?"
"Just tell Him that you trust Him. Remember, He always hears you."
Molly closed her eyes and stood still for a moment. She was telling the King that she would trust Him, no matter what.
"The Helmet of Salvation. It protects your mind, when you know that your King has already saved you by bringing you into His Kingdom--and that He will save you every time you get into trouble."
"You mean nothing bad can ever happen to me?"
"Nothing that the King can't use for good in your life. Some things will hurt a lot, but He will help you through it--and teach you more about Himself. Remember, He always wants the very best for you. And He has power to do the very best--even when it doesn't feel good at the moment."
"I know He does!" said Molly. She thought for a moment, then she added, "I wish everyone knew that."
"So do I," said Dad.
"Is there more?"
"Yes, the Sword of the Spirit."
"The Sword of the Spirit? What's that?"
"The Book of Truth."
"Oh! How do I use it?"
"You ask the King to remind you of a truth that fits what's happening. Then you count on that truth by speaking or thinking it in your mind."
"Why is it a sword?"
"Because the King's truth is so powerful it cuts through the Baron's lies and tricks. It helps you win over all evil forces--both the visible and invisible ones."
Molly closed her eyes and thought for a moment. Then she burst out, "I just remembered a great truth that the King told us. He said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.'"
"That's a perfect sword," said Dad. "Hold on to it."
Just then, Molly spotted the cabin. "Look Dad, somebody lives here. Maybe they've seen Tom."
"Let's ask them."
They walked up to the heavy door, knocked, then waited.
"Dad, I'm so glad we're wearing the armor," whispered Molly.
"So am I," said Dad.
The door opened. A tall thin man glared at them. "What do you want?"
"We're looking for three boys..." began Dad.
"They came by last night. They headed in that direction." The man pointed down the trail. "That's all I know."
"Thank you." Dad turned and began to walk away.
Molly hurried after him. Something inside made her want to get far away from there -- fast. Was the King warning her?
Go to Chapter 17
"Dad, did you see the girl standing behind that man? She was crying.
Something was wrong in that place." Molly couldn't forget her sad face.
"No, I didn't see her," answered Dad. "But I noticed a crystal ball and a deck of tarot cards on the table."
"What's a crystal ball? And tarot cards?"
"Those are the Baron's tools. He uses them to tell his people what he wants them to believe."
"Dad, are they all bad--all those people from Lucidia?" Molly was thinking about Lucy.
"The Baron is totally bad," began Dad. "But most of the people from Lucidia are victims -- caught in his traps. Some can see the evil and would love to escape. They want to be free from his evil power, but they don't know how."
"Can we help them get free?" Molly hoped so.
Before Dad could answer, she heard a timid voice calling from behind, "Wait! Please wait for me!"
Molly turned to look. The young girl she had seen in the cabin was running down the trail toward them.
"Can I come with you? Please let me come!" She looked so wet, cold and sad in her thin, short sleeved dress that Molly longed to help her.
"Here, put this on," she said, taking off her warm jacket and putting it around the shivering girl.
"But you need it," protested the girl.
"I'm warm enough," said Molly.
"You can wear Tom's pancho." Dad pulled a yellow hooded plastic covering from his backpack and handed it to Molly. Then he turned back to the unhappy girl. "What is your name?"
"Where are you from?"
"Lucidia. But I hate it! If you let me come, I can help you."
"You can? How?" Dad sounded skeptical.
"You're looking for your son. His name is Tom. I can help you find him."
"Do you know where he is?"
"I think he's in a tunnel under the river."
"How do you know?"
"Demos -- the mean man you met earlier -- saw it in his crystal ball."
"Oh." Dad stiffened. "Star, I know you mean well, but we don't want help from a crystal ball. We don't want to trust the evil powers of the Baron. Sometimes they seem to work, but they always draw their victims deeper into the darkness." He started to turn away.
"Please take me along," Star begged. Molly could see big tears rolling down her cheeks. "I don't trust the Baron either. I'm afraid of him.."
"Where are your parents?" asked Dad.
"I don't know. Somewhere in Troth, I think. They left me with Demos, and I'm afraid of him, too.
"You can come along, then, but only if you're willing to stop using the Baron's powers. It's far too dangerous."
"If I give up my power, how can I help you find Tom?"
"Star, our King will show us the way. He'll show you the way too, if you will trust Him."
"How do I do that?"
Dad's voice softened. "By yourself you can't get away from the Baron, Star. He holds on tight to his slaves. But we can ask the King to free you--if you promise never to use the Baron's tools again. Will you agree to that?"
Star didn't hesitate. "I agree!" she said. "And I want to get rid of this goddess. She can't help anyone!" She loosened a chain with a little goddess-shaped amulet from around her neck and threw it as far as she could. It landed in a pile of rocks and disappeared. Then she looked at Dad again. "Now would you please ask your King to help me."
"Star, our King has provided a way for everyone to become part of His Kingdom. I don't mean crossing the river and moving into His land secretly. His way to the Kingdom is much better. You find it by trusting His goodness, rather than your own."
"That part should be easy. I already know I can't trust myself."
"There's more. Long ago, the King did something very special. He died for us. He took the punishment we deserve, and made it possible for all to be His children. Now, if you are willing to trust Him and do what He says, He'll make you part of His family forever and ever." Dad looked right into Star's eyes. They were no longer full of tears.
"I would be safe then, wouldn't I?"
"Yes, you would! You would!" cried Molly.
"Will you trust Him, Star? Will you follow His way?"
"I want to! I believe He will help me!"
"Then tell Him that."
"But He isn't here." Star looked confused.
"He is here," said Molly. "We just can't see Him. He hears everything you say!"
Star looked up at the sky with wonder. "Dear King," she began. "I hope you can hear me. I want to follow you. Please forgive me for all the bad things I have done--especially for using the Baron's power. Thank you for dying for me, so that I can be part of your Kingdom."
She looked at Dad. "Am I part of His family now?"
Dad smiled and nodded. "One more thing. The King didn't stay dead. He came back. Now He shares His life with everyone who comes to Him. Do you want that life?"
Star looked up again and talked to her invisible King. "I want your life, dear King. Thank you for giving it to me. Please help me follow you every day."
Molly loved watching Star's shining face. The King had washed away all the fear and sadness from her face, then covered it with a big, happy smile. "Isn't our King great!" she said. "I just love Him!"
"So do I," cried Star.
Molly looked up. The clouds were floating away and the sun seemed to be smiling, too.
Go to Chapter 18
"Do you hear horses?" asked Dad. Molly looked back.
"Yes. And there they are!" Now they could all see the man on horseback. He was leading two saddled horses. When he reached Dad, Molly and Star, he dismounted and greeted them with a friendly smile.
"Hello. I'm Tor. Where are you going?"
"To the river," answered Dad cautiously.
"So am I. Would you like a ride? Your girls look like they could use a lift."
Dad looked at the two girls.
"Please, Dad!" Molly had always wanted to ride a horse. Besides, this man looked so friendly.
Dad hesitated a moment--then asked. "How do you get across the river?"
"You take the ferry, of course. It'll be leaving soon. If you're going to catch it, you'd better ride with me."
"All right. We accept your kind offer." Dad introduced his little group.
Tor smiled. "The girls can ride this one together," he said, pointing to a light brown horse--the one Molly liked best.
"Have you ridden a horse before?"
"No," answered Molly.
"I haven't either," added Star.
"We don't have time for a lesson right now, so just hold on tight and let the horse lead you. Okay?" Tor lifted the two girls into the saddle--Star behind Molly--and fastened the loose reigns to the saddle.
"This horse knows the way," he assured them. Then he handed the reigns of the gray mare to Dad, and the two men mounted their horses and continued down the trail.
Star put her arms around Molly's waist and squeezed tight. When they started moving, Molly clutched the saddle horn with both hands. Tor was right! The horse knew what to do without her help. It just followed the other two.
Suddenly the forest cleared and they could see the river. Crowds of people were lining the river bank. The ferry must have just arrived, for men, women and children were still getting off. Were they all headed for the Kingdom?
Tor and Dad led their horses to a shed near the river bank and dismounted. They handed the reigns to a tall man who seemed to be waiting. Molly couldn't hear what he was saying to Tor, but he seemed angry.
Tor turned to Star and Molly. "Let me help you down," he said quietly.
As he lifted Molly, she noticed a strange symbol he wore on a chain around his neck. It had the head of a bear in the center, and four lines divided the rest of the circle into four quarters. What does it mean? she wondered. Tor couldn't be one of the Baron's people, could he? He's so nice! Later she would ask Dad.
Meanwhile, she could at least review the parts of the armor. She rehearsed each one in her mind:
* Truth: The King was stronger than anyone from Lucidia. He knew what to do.
* Righteousness: His goodness was in her. He would help her follow His perfect plan.
* Peace: With the King on her side, she didn't need to be afraid.
* Faith: She would trust the King no matter what!
* Salvation: The King who had made her part of His Kingdom would surely take care of her today.
* The Sword which is Truth: "Don't be afraid, for I am with you always."
"Well, I'll be heading back up the mountain," said Tor. He wasn't smiling any more.
"We appreciate your help," said Dad.
"Yes, thank you," said Molly. She sensed he was in some kind of trouble and wished she could cheer him up.
As the three walked down to the pier, the people from Lucidia stared at them. Some looked angry, others seemed curious. Some smiled to them. Molly smiled back. "Please King, help them to know you," she whispered.
"Let's keep trusting the King to get us across," said Dad. "Here we go."
As soon as they started up the steps to the boat, a big man in a black uniform jumped down from the upper deck and blocked their way.
"Where do you think you're going?" he thundered.
"We're crossing the river on this boat." said Dad quietly.
"Oh no, you're not!" shouted the man.
"Yes, we are. We come in the name of the King, and you can't stop us," said Dad.
The officer looked confused. He muttered something Molly couldn't understand and climbed back up the ladder to start the boat.
"Wow!" said Star. "When you mention the King, they don't dare pick on you."
"That's right," said Dad. "Even though they belong to the Baron, they know which ruler is the strongest."
Star was watching the people on shore. Suddenly she called out, "I see Tor. He's getting on the boat."
"Dad, Tor's coming with us," said Molly.
Moments later, Tor stepped onto the deck. But instead of joining the small group from the Kingdom, he went straight up to the captain's bridge.
"I wonder why he came." said Molly.
"His plans must have changed," suggested Star.
"Maybe they were changed for him," said Dad. He looked serious. And when Molly told him about the bear symbol, the furrows on his forehead deepened.
As the boat chugged its way across the river, Molly had time to look around. The deck seemed deserted. Was the boat empty except for the three of them, Tor, and mean officer? It must have been full going the other way.
Just then Molly's empty stomach began to growl and Dad pulled out three apples and a bag of nuts. They had barely finished their feast, when the boat slid up against the side of the dock in Lucidia.
The sky looked black, and the gentle breeze had turned into an icy blizzard. Molly pulled Tom's pancho tight around herself and huddled close to Dad.
Go to Chapter 19
As soon as the boat docked, Tor and the mean officer hurried down to meet a man in black uniform. As they talked, the two officers kept glancing back at the three passengers from the Kingdom. They seemed to be giving orders to Tor.
"They must be talking about us," said Molly.
"But, remember, when the King has told us to do something, they can't stop us from finishing it," said Dad.
"--because our King is stronger. Right?" added Star.
"That's right," said Dad, "so let's go!"
They walked down the gangplank to the dock. The new officer shouted to them, "What do you think you're doing? You have no right to come here."
"The King sent us," said Dad calmly. "You can't stop us."
"You're not allowed to come ashore without an escort."
"What do you mean--an escort? We can find our way!"
"You're not allowed to. Tor will go with you. Do whatever he tells you!" shouted the officer.
Tor walked toward them.
"Quick. Let's ask the King what to do," said Dad. He put his arms around the two freezing girls. Huddled together against the wind, they stood quiet for a moment.
"Star, maybe He will use you to lead us. You've been here before. If the boys have been captured, where do you think they might be hidden?"
"There are some new buildings over there, behind those trees..." began Star.
Tor reached the three in time to hear Star's answer. "You must go into town," he interrupted. "This road will take us there."
Dad ignored him. "What do you think, Star?"
"I think we should try those buildings first. I've heard that there's something mysterious happening over there."
"All right. Let's go there first," said Dad.
"No, you can't go there," protested Tor. "You'll get into serious trouble."
Dad pretended he hadn't heard. "Here's the path," he said, heading for a narrow road leading into the forest. Molly looked at Tor. He looked sad and scared. What was he afraid of?
When they came to a large open area, Dad stopped.
"There it is," said Star pointing to the main building. It was surrounded by a large garage, several sheds, bulldozers and forklifts for moving heavy things.
"Look at that funny miniature train," said Molly.
"I never saw that before," said Star.
They hurried up to the door of the main house and knocked.
The door opened. A tall woman in a long purple gown stood smiling at them.
"I'm Rama. How can I help you?" she asked. She sounded friendly.
Or was she? I don't like the look in her eyes, thought Molly.
"We're looking for three boys. Have you seen them?"
"Yes, they stopped by this morning and caught a ride into town. I'll find out where they are staying. Come on in."
They followed Rama into a waiting room. Molly felt creepy. There was something strange about the pink crystal pendant Rama was wearing. And the eerie music, which seemed to come from far away, disturbed her.
As soon as they sat down, Rama disappeared. A while later, she returned with a not-so-friendly man wearing a long purple scarf.
"This is Odin. He'll help you find the boys."
"Come with me," muttered Odin.
Molly looked at Dad. She would rather not go with this stranger. She didn't trust Rama, but she liked Odin even less. Dad seemed uncomfortable, too.
"Are you sure they went into town?" he asked.
"Sure I'm sure. I drove them myself. Are you coming or not?" Odin walked outside.
"We better go," said Tor, grabbing Molly's arm. His hand was shaking.
Dad hesitated, then he said, "Well, I guess we'll come."
Odin hurried out to the barn. He returned with a beautiful black horse. Tor's eyes grew big and he gave a long, loud whistle. "Wow! That's a great horse!" he said.
Odin hitched the horse to a fancy carriage and waved for them to get in. Dad glanced back toward the main building. "I wonder if...." he began. Then he shrugged and climbed into the back seat with Molly and Star. Tor sat in the front--next to Odin.
"These are great seats," said Molly, sinking into the soft cushions. Odin flicked a switch and suddenly the same soft, mysterious music they had heard inside the house floated through the carriage. Molly yawned. Maybe she could get used to this music. As Odin whipped the horse into action, she closed her eyes.
Go to Chapter 20
"Wait! That dog! Where did it come from?" Tor's shout pierced Molly's sleepy mind.
"Stop!" Without waiting for Odin to slow the carriage, Tor jumped out.
With a jolt, Molly sat up. She watched Tor roll on the ground, then lay still -- but not for long. A little white dog, barking wildly, was trying to run toward him but kept falling down. Tor got back on his feet and ran to the little dog, picked it up and held it in his arms.
Odin swore as he yanked the reigns and swung the horse around. Then he changed his mind. Madly whipping the horse, he turned again and sped out toward the main road.
Dad was wide awake too. "Stop," he shouted.
"Don't tell me what to do!" screamed Odin, madly whipping the poor horse.
"In the name of the King, I tell you to stop!"
This time Odin began to slow down.
"Now turn around."
Odin obeyed, but his body shook with rage. Molly moved closer to Dad.
Odin drove the horse back into the yard, threw the reigns over a post, and stormed into the house. Dad ran after him, and the girls followed close behind. They stopped when they reached Tor.
"Who is that dog?" asked Dad. "It seems to know you, Tor."
"It's my dog, Kaya, who's been missing for weeks."
"Could it be the same dog that Tom and Peter tried to return? If it is, you're the person they went looking for you."
"You mean, they came all this way looking for me?" Tor looked surprised.
"Well, I'm not sure that was the only reason..." started Dad.
Tor didn't seem to hear Dad's words. "They got into all this trouble to help me find my dog," he said, as if thinking out loud. "That's awesome!"
He looked at Dad. "I want to help you find those boys -- even if it makes the Baron furious."
He put Kaya back on the ground and spoke to her. "Kaya, where's Tom? Go find Tom."
The little dog perked up her hears, whimpered and looked at Tor.
"Go find, Tom," Tor urged again. Kaya limped a few step toward the house and fell down. "She's hurt," cried Tor."
"How did she get out here, then?" wondered Molly.
"She must have heard me whistle earlier, and she used her last bit of energy to find me."
"Can we ask the King to make her strong again?"
"I don't see why not," said Dad. "Let's ask Him together."
Molly closed her eyes and prayed. "Dear King, we know that nothing is impossible for you. Would you please make Kaya well? And would you let her help us find Tom? Thank you, King."
Sasha lay still for about five seconds, then she began to jump up on Tor trying to lick his face. "Is she well?" asked Molly.
"Wow! I think she is!" said Tor. He watched Kaya race in a big circle around all of them. "Your King amazes me!" He looked at Dad. "Does He always do what you ask? Does He always heal?"
"No," answered Dad. "He always wants us to ask Him. But He knows better than we do what's best in the long run. Sometimes He uses our illnesses to train us to trust Him more."
"Maybe He made Kaya well, so that she could help you all get back safely," said Tor. He whistled again, and the little dog raced back to him and flopped down at his feet. Her tail wagged ecstatically.
"Go find Tom," said Tor, pointing to the house.
Kaya raced up to the front door and stopped. Tor turned the latch, but the door was locked. He knocked. No response. He pounded, and finally Rama came to the door.
She looked angry. "Why are you still here?" she yelled. "I told you that the boys went into town. They're not here!" She tried to slam the door, but Tor put his foot in the doorway.
"You're a dead man," she hissed at him. "Just you wait!"
"I'm more alive than I've ever been," answered Tor. He seemed to be laughing. Then he called to his dog, "Kaya, go find Tom!" The little dog flew past him and raced down a long hallway. Dad pushed the door wide open and all four ran after her.
Half way down the hall Kaya stopped. She started jumping up on the door, whining and barking. "They must be in here," cried Dad, "but the door is locked."
"Tom, are you in there?" shouted Dad. No one answered.
Go to Chapter 21
While Molly, Dad and Star were crossing the river, Tom was dreaming. Rama's soft voice, mystical music, and soothing words had put him into a trance-like sleep. Too tired to resist, he had let his imagination flow with the hypnotic sounds and images. Her visualizations had carried him through the skies to a beautiful imaginary forests. There, animals spoke in human language, a little elf offered to be his friend forever, and a beautiful woman started to tell him what he should do with his life.
A familiar noise interrupted his dreamy sleep. From far away came the sound of someone knocking. He sensed Rama leaving the room, but his mind was too foggy to think. Then he heard Sasha stir and bark softly.
From outside came the sound of a long whistle. Sasha's ears stiffened and she struggled to get on her feet. Tom could hardly believe his eyes as she tottered to the door and pushed it open. He could hear her start running down the hall. How could her hurting little body move so fast?
A moment later, he heard Rama rush toward the room. She slammed the door and locked it. What was happening out there?
Tom's body wanted to sleep again, but to his mind came another message--an urge to resist. "Fight Tom," he whispered to himself. "Don't give up. The King will help you." He was feeling more awake already.
"The King is stronger than the evil force in this room," he said aloud. "The King is greater than the Baron. He will save you." Wow! He had remembered the next part of the armor--the helmet of salvation. His mind was beginning to clear, so he reviewed the parts of the Armor again.
Truth: The King is far greater than the Baron and his evil forces.
Righteousness: He, Tom couldn't make it on his own. He had given in to the evil power again, but the King had forgiven him.
Peace: He wouldn't be afraid, for the King was with him always.
Faith: He would continue to trust the King--no matter what.
Salvation: The King would win over the Baron any day.
He tried to awaken his friends. First he shook Peter, then Colin--but both slept as if drugged. Then he looked around for a way to escape. The window in their prison room had bars on it. The door to the hall was locked, but another door led to a small bathroom. There, on the opposite wall, was a cabinet door.
Tom opened it and looked in. In spite of the darkness, he noticed that it led to a large storage area--the kind you would find under a stairway. He crawled through the dark passage, feeling his way to the other side.
A sliver of light told him there must be an opening. Sure enough. Sliding his hands across the wall panel at the end, he found a small section that moved. He pushed it out of the way and crept into a large room on the other side.
Brushing off dirt and cobwebs, Tom looked around. Little light bulbs like the ones in the tunnel lit the room. A Ouija board lay on a side table. But what was that large metal pyramid in the far corner of the room? And what about all those strange shields hanging on the wall to his left? Decorated with animal heads, feathers and other stuff, they reminded him of the mysterious symbol Sasha was wearing.
Shelves full of crystals and little statues covered another wall. Tom had just stopped to admire a cluster of purple crystals, when the door flew open. Tom jumped. There stood the angry man with the purple scarf--the one Rama had called Odin. His face twisted into a hateful grin. Tom froze with fear.
"You.... I'm going to kill you!" thundered Odin. He lunged toward Tom, grabbed him by the neck, and lifted him into the air.
For a moment, Tom fully expected to die. Then something strange happened inside him. It began when he remembered the King again.
"King! Help me!" he shouted.
"Your King can't help you," screamed Odin.
"Yes, he can!" shouted Tom. "He's much greater than you or the Baron!"
Startled, the man stepped back, tripped over a chair, and crashed to the floor. Tom was free--for the moment. He ran into the hallway and looked to the left. That way out was blocked by four persons. He quickly turned to the right.
Go to Chapter 22
That voice. It sounded like Dad! But it couldn't be.
Before Tom could turn around, Sasha was jumping all over him. A moment later, Tom saw someone running down the hall toward him. Two strong arms caught him, lifted him up and hugged him.
"Dad! You're here?" Tom could hardly believe his eyes. "And Molly!" His sister threw her arms around him. "How did you find us?"
"The King sent us some special helpers," answered Dad with a big smile. "Meet Tor and Star."
"Peter and Colin are in there," said Tom, pointing to the other door. "We have to get them out."
Just then, Odin came charging down the hall. Dad and Tor grabbed him. "You can't stop us now, Odin," said Dad. "Open this door!"
Odin glared at Tom with murder in his eyes. Swearing loudly, he pulled the keys out of his pocket.
Nothing had changed since Tom left the room. Peter was still sleeping with his head on the table. Colin was still stretched out in his chair. Tom called their names, shook them, but neither stirred. He looked up at Dad, puzzled.
"What happened to them?" asked Dad.
Tom quickly told him about the events of the day: the tunnel, the train, the mystical music, Rama's soft voice and visualizations....
"Sounds like hypnosis through guided imagery," said Star. "That's one of the main ways people can connect with the Baron's spirits."
"You mean talk with demons?" asked Dad.
"I guess that's what it means. We called them spirit guides or wise persons--depending on the shape they take."
"Could they be any shape? I mean, could an evil spirit pretend to be an animal or a person--or even an imaginary creature?" asked Tom.
Star nodded. "Anything at all--good or scary."
"Did you talk with those spirits?" Molly could hardly believe what she was hearing.
"Yes, it's easy. I learned how to hypnotize people--and myself--when I lived here. As soon as I would get into a trance, the spirits would start speaking to me. Some pretended to be good. Others were horrible. I don't ever want to hear them again."
"Can you wake up people who are hypnotized--like Peter and Colin?" asked Tom.
"I think so."
"Using the King's power, not the Baron's. Right?" Dad sounded concerned.
"I want to do it the King's way. Can you ask Him to give me the right words?" asked Star.
"I would love to!" said Dad. "Dear King, please give Star your words to speak--words that will wake up the boys and free them from Rama's spell. Thank you, King." He turned to Star. "Go ahead," he told her.
Star began to speak to the two sleeping boys. In her, gentle voice, she told them about the King who set her free. She told them that His power would clear their minds. She asked the King to break through the forces of the enemy and release them from all bondage.
Soon Peter opened his eyes. He looked around--then shook his head. "What's happening?" he asked.
Tom began to explain. "Dad and Molly came to find us..." Just then, Colin's eyes popped open. Both he and Peter looked more confused than happy.
"They're not free from the Baron's power yet," said Star. She turned to Dad.
"Could you pray for them like you prayed for me?"
"I think you're right," said Dad. "I'll pray for them. But before I do, I have to make sure that they want the King's help." He turned first to Peter. "Do you want to be completely free, Peter?
Peter nodded. "I do. The Baron's power only got me into trouble."
Dad spoke firmly, "We know that the King is far greater than the Baron. In His name, I release you from his evil clutches."
Tom watched his friend relax. For a moment, a big smile flashed over Peter's face. Then it clouded again. "I really blew it, didn't I? Wanting to go through the tunnel and all? I'm sorry!"
Dad put his arms around Peter and hugged him. "You made some foolish choices all right. But the King has forgiven you. We're just glad you're okay."
"Dad," Tom suddenly remembered something. "Peter hurt his hand in the train."
Dad gently held Peter's swollen hand. "You're right, Tom. Let's ask the King to heal it." He prayed, waited a moment, then looked at Peter's hand. It was still swollen, but Peter was grinning.
"It feels better already," he said. "I know it'll be all right soon. Thanks to the King!"
Dad turned to Colin and spoke the same words to him. But this time something strange happened. Instead of relaxing, Colin's body became tense, and out of his mouth came some strange words. His voice sounded deep--not at all like Colin's.
Dad looked puzzled, but Star understood. "That's an evil spirit speaking through him," she said.
"Dad, since the King is with us, can't He command the evil spirit to leave," asked Tom.
"I believe He can," said Dad. "Let's ask Him to use us to free Colin." He prayed again. Then he took a deep breath and spoke as confidently as he could. "Our King has won over the Baron's forces. In His name, we stand against this evil power and proclaim the victory of the Kingdom. No evil spirits can block the plan of our King. This spirit that keeps Colin from hearing the truth must come out of him--right now!"
Colin's mouth opened in a big yawn--then turned into a smile. "I feel different," he said. "Like something dark and heavy just left me. What did you do?"
"The King freed you from the Baron's force--just as He did with me this morning," explained Star.
"Getting rid of this evil spirit may seem simple," said Dad, "but to stay free, you need to know a lot more about the King and His ways. If you use the Baron's forces again, you will allow his spirits to come back and control you. The only way you can stay free is by following the King. What do you choose?"
"You mean no more Ouija boards or Tarot cards--or any of that stuff?"
"None of it!"
Colin stared at the floor. He didn't look very happy.
"Please choose the King, Colin," urged Tom. "Then you'll see how great He is!"
Colin hesitated. "I'm not sure yet. Let me think about it." He didn't look at Tom.
Meanwhile, Tor had made up his mind. "I've been thinking about it already," he burst out. "I want to live in the Kingdom and learn all about the King!"
He suddenly remembered the symbol he had been wearing. Pulling it off and throwing it into a wastebasket, he said, "This magic sign brings bad spells--not good protection. I'm trusting the King instead!"
"Grab Sasha," said Tom. "Her tag has to go next!"
"You mean Kaya!" said Tor, grabbing the round tag and tearing it off. Kaya leaped up on him and licked him in the face. "She's celebrating her freedom, too!" shouted Tom.
Everybody laughed - except Colin. He still looked sad.
"Isn't our King wonderful!" said Molly.
Go to Epilogue
It was too late to cross the river that evening, so Dad and Tor decided to sleep overnight in the house. With the sofa, blankets and chair cushions, they turned the boys' prison into a bedroom for seven.
"This sure beats sleeping on the wet ground outside," said Peter.
Odin and Rama had disappeared. Even so, Dad asked the King to protect them against any interference from the Baron's forces.
Cozy under a warm blanket, Molly thought about a song the King's people often sang in the morning: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..." That's what the King did for us tonight, she thought happily as she drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, they headed for the river. Tor knew just when the boat would cross. So at noon, the seven of them shared the deck with the crowd of travelers from Lucidia. They even talked with some of the strangers about their wonderful King.
"Isn't it strange that these people have no idea how great He is?" whispered Molly to Star.
"They've only heard lies about Him," explained Star. "The Baron keeps telling them lies. If they heard the truth, many of them would trust the King instead of him."
Tor found his horses waiting for them. Tied to the tree, they neighed happily when they saw him. "They can hardly wait to start up the hill," he said. "Like many of us, they feel far more comfortable near Troth than near Lucidia."
"That's good," said Molly, "since they'll be carrying double loads going back."
On the trip up the back of the mountain, Molly sat in front of Dad in his saddle. Star and Colin rode together. So did Peter and Tom. Tor insisted on walking.
"That's the least I can do for my King," he said. "Look what He's done for me!"
Happy, stiff and hungry they arrived in the Kingdom that evening. Mom and Peter's parents had prepared a feast for them.
"The King wants to see you tomorrow morning," said Mom. "He'll meet with you right after breakfast."
The next morning Star and Tor came to the King's garden for the first time. They, too, heard His exciting message from the Book of Truth. Breakfast with the King was wonderful, but the best part of all was meeting Him in His beautiful throne room again.
"Welcome back, my dear soldiers," said the King.
"Oh, King, thank you for making us your soldiers," said Tom.
"And for showing us how to wear the armor," added Molly.
"...so that we can stay close to you and never be afraid," continued Tom.
Now that they had seen His great power, they could share in His battles for freedom and truth.
Tomorrow I'll tell Lucy all about Him, thought Molly. "Our King is so wonderful!" she cried. Everyone agreed.